STORY OF THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR 369
Yuan and Japan opened direct negotiations with Chiang himself, a new note was struck in the history of Sino-Japanese negotiations. In the eighty-three day negotiations, from the middle of September to the beginning of December, 1936 China met Japanese demands with counter-demands. For instance, the Japanese demand for an air service between China and Japan was countered by the Chinese demand that Japanese aeroplanes cease flying over Chinese territory, and to the Japanese offer to co-operate in fighting Communists in China, the Chinese Foreign Minister replied by offering to send Chinese troops to exterminate Communists in Manchurirf! For the first time in Sino-Japanese negotiations China was treating herself as an equal of Japan.
One is almost tempted to give Chiang the credit for purposely yielding to Japan for five or six years to bring the Chinese indignation against Japan up to a white-hot pitch. It might seem plausible, for the waiting and submitting during those years increased China's spirit of resistance. Did Chiang want to wait until he could no longer control the national temper and then strike? Personally I do not think so, but the actual waiting turned out to be for China's benefit. Chiang did wait, however, until he was sure of national support from the leaders and knew he would not be struck from behind while fighting Japan. This last factor of internal split was apparently such a near contingency that Japan counted on it the day she launched war on China, although as if by a sleight-of-hand the magician Chiang made it disappear.
I think the real motive for Chiang's temporary dallying with Japan, by means of Wang Chingwei and of the makeshift Chahar-Hopei Council, was that he was building up China's military strength and really occupied in his successive efforts to exterminate the Communists before he would fight Japan It must be admitted now that Chiang had an anti-Communist complex, born of his days of association with Borodin. He thought he could smash the Communists. He couldn't. Therefore he was determined to smash them all the more, until it became an obsession with him. Bribery had proved futile with the Communist officers. For seven long years he spent his best time and a very heavy part of China's national